Debating Europe wants to give students the chance to question policymakers, debate with fellow students from other European countries, and learn more about the work of the EU.
To achieve this goal, we are working closely with schools and colleges across each EU member state to launch a series of student-led online debates.
Our third debate is with students from the Dr. Vasil Beron school in Bulgaria. We took questions from the students there, and put them to Gianni Pittella, a social democrat MEP (Member of the European Parliament) from Italy and First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Anna Maria Darmanin, the Vice-President of the European Economic & Social Committee, and Caroline Spelman, a Conservative MP in the British Parliament.
1. Gianni Pittella, Italian MEP
Gianni Pittella is an Italian MEP with the centre-left Partito Democratico, which is aligned with the Socialists & Democrats group (S&D) in the European Parliament. He is also the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, and we caught up with him in this capacity earlier this week during the “5 Ideas for a Younger Europe” event in Brussels, where we asked him a question from Nina on the Erasmus programme:
2. Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President of the EESC
Next, we had a question from Peter asking how Europe can solve the growing problem of youth unemployment. We put this question to Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee (the consultative body of the EU which represents trade unions, employers’ associations and other civil society groups to the European institutions). How would she respond?
3. Caroline Spelman, British MP
Finally, we had a question from Ivelina about the future evolution of Europe. Ivelina asked if we should be concerned that, by creating seperate institutions for the eurozone countries, we might be entrenching the “periphery” of non-eurozone countries (including Bulgaria) as second-class EU members, with less influence over European matters.
We put Ivelina’s question to Caroline Spelman, a Conservative MP from the UK and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2010 to 2012. Britain is, of course, not a member of the euro, and has no intention of joining anytime soon (and you can read our series on Britain’s relationship with the EU here). How would Ms. Spelman respond?
No, I don’t think we need to be concerned about that. I think the evidence so far is that non-euro countries have co-existed quite well within the EU alongside their partners in the eurozone. The regulatory framework for most sectors of the economy functions right across Europe, whether you are a member of the eurozone or not, and decisions are taken jointly by everyone. I see no reason why this should change.
What do YOU think? Would you support an EU Youth Guarantee Scheme, ensuring that any young person in Europe who has been unemployed for longer than six months is guaranteed an offer of either some form of training or some form of job? Would you like to see a European employment agency, offering a more structured, Europe-wide approach to tackling youth unemployment? Should the Erasmus scheme be massively expanded to include any young person from 16 to 35? And should non-eurozone countries worry that they might lose influence as a permanent “periphery”? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.